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Planning Board Reworks Recommendations
Changes to R1, zoning the Piglet, definition additions
October 15, 2017

I
n August, the Town Board revoked the Special Use Permit (SUP) and Land Use Permit (LUP) for the Fulcher Point Boatyard Project. At that meeting, Commissioner White said, “Maybe we need to change some of the stuff in the GMO or take off some things.”

With that in mind, the Planning Board held several public meetings during August and September to focus solely on updating the Growth Management Ordinance (GMO).

March 2016 saw the last update to the GMO, but Town Manager Diane Miller said there had been no significant changes to the Table of Permissible Uses as whole in nearly 14 years. Changes were needed to bring the table in line with any Federal and State Regulations passed during that time in addition to expressing the public’s will.

How it works
Changing the GMO allows existing businesses – as they operate today – to be grandfathered in. New construction, whether belonging to a new business or an existing one, will be subject to GMO changes. The Code of General Ordinance (GO) comprises regulations maintaining public health and safety, like the noise ordinance and regulations on the town docks. Any change to the Code of General Ordinances (GO) goes into effect immediately for every resident and business.

The GMO is the guide to land use in Oriental. It states how land may be used and defines the type and use of five districts. Currently Oriental has residential districts R1, R2, R3 and mixed-use districts MU and MU-1 “to allow a broad range of uses, such as residences, services, offices, and the accommodation of small retail stores which provide goods and services primarily to surrounding residential neighborhoods.” The GMO Map outlines these districts using a color-coded legend. Areas in white belong to the county.

Planning Board October 10, 2017
The current GMO Map.

Digging through the GMO
During the August and September Planning Board meetings, board members met to go through the GMO and Permissible Use Table (Table), crafting updates to submit at the Town Board meeting on October 3rd. The Town Board has final approval on recommendations made by other boards.

The Planning Board was able to get through the Table up to Section 10. It lists which types of buildings or businesses are allowed in which districts using a grid system and an X (not allowed), L (LUP required), S (SUP required), or E (Exempt).

Planning Board October 10, 2017
Part of page 1 of the current Table of Permissible Uses.
Along with the Table of Permissible Uses, the GMO has a list of thoroughly defined terms. Planning Board members added the terms light, medium, and heavy industry as well as light cranes and commercial travel lift. Marinas, once all-inclusive, has been split into several terms defined by their use: pleasure craft only marina, commercial boat/ship yards, commercial fishing yards, and industrial boat/ship yards.

During the retooling of the Table, it became apparent that the residential requirements of R1 were no longer in line with Federal Statute, specifically with the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. Town Manager Miller said the Act says, “If you restrict a 100 person church from opening up in R1, you also have to restrict a 100 person theater from opening in R1. If you say that you can’t have any organized religious activity, then you also have to restrict libraries, museums – all the things that we discussed – libraries, museums, horseback riding, golf driving ranges, miniature golf courses, outdoor recreational facilities, athletic fields, golf courses, tennis courts, country clubs, colosseums, theaters, and music venues. If you’re going to restrict religious things, you have to restrict those other things exactly the same way.” Miller said she believed this information was not clearly communicated to the public at the time, probably causing some of the concerns raised in the Town Board Meeting.

The Planning Board discussed allowing these institutions in R1 if they passed the SUP process. Board member Bonnie Knapp did not agree, citing that R1 use was residential only and based on light population density. Knapp agreed with all other changes except the change to R1. The recommended changes went before the Town Board October 3rd.

Knapp and others spoke against the change to R1 at the Town Board meeting. Other residents raised concerns about the limitations of some of the definitions. The Town Board sent the changes back to the Planning Board to gather additional information.

Thursday’s Planning Board Meeting
Thursday’s meeting was called to discuss these changes and the zoning of the new Piggly Wiggly annexation. Cecily Lohmar, Vice-Chair of the Planning Board, headed the meeting. Eric Dammeyer has told TownDock.net he quit his position as Chairman of the Planning Board. He was present in the audience.

The Planning Board made adjustments to Commercial Boat/Ship Yards and Light Cranes to address the issues of spray washing, light crane operating height limitations, and simple boat repairs. Commercial Fishing Boat Yards were also designated as light industry rather than medium industry.

Planning Board October 10, 2017
Slides from the Planning Board Meeting showing changes to the definitions.

The Piggly Wiggly annexation will be zoned as MU, mixed use. The Board also decided to expand the definition of convenience store to convenience store/grocery store to accommodate the new annexation.

The discussion of R1 took the majority of the meeting. Board member Knapp raised concerns about future abuses of the SUP process and the infrastructure of the neighborhoods being unable to support institutions like churches, schools, and museums. Lohmar and Town Manager Miller said that any institution built must comply with existing restrictions such as setbacks and building codes outlined elsewhere in the GMO. These institutions would not have room on a 3/4 or 1-acre lot to provide for the buildings and ample parking.

Knapp contended that multiple properties could be purchased and combined to create a large enough lot. Miller countered saying there are existing regulations that you cannot build across property lines, and any combination of lots into more than 2 acres would have to go through the Town Board. The Board has the authority to deny the proposed project if they do not want it to happen. Lohmar said the idea of the changes to R1 is not to change what is happening today, but what is happening in the future.

Lohmar said, “this is no longer a point-by-point discussion. It is all or nothing. If you zone religious institutions out of R1, then you have to zone out everything in R1.” She then moved to take a 10-minute break.

After the break
Public comments were heard after the meeting was back in session. Three of the 11 audience members signed up to speak. Only two spoke, thanking the Board for their diligence and attention to detail in going through the Table of Permissible Uses. Vice-Chair Lohmar asked the Board if they wanted to revisit and strike everything in R1 or to go with the recommendations they had presented to the Town Board: allowing the institutions in R1 by requiring a permit. All but Knapp agreed to the plan for R1 originally submitted to the Town Board.

New additions and changes to the definitions were approved by all members of the Planning Board. The updated version of the Table of Permissible Uses and the definitions will be presented to the Town Board on November 8th at 7p. There will be another public hearing.

The Planning Board will begin tackling the rest of the Table, sections 10 – 26, on Monday, October 16th from 1-3p. Each member will take a section and present their finding and recommendations to the rest of the Planning Board.

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Posted Sunday October 15, 2017 by Allison DeWeese


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